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Houston Astros' hot bats help them get the advantage in Game 2

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Published in Baseball
Wednesday, 27 October 2021 18:05

In Game 1 of the 2021 World Series, the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros saw a little bit of everything.

The game's biggest storyline happened in the bottom of the third when Atlanta's Charlie Morton threw 16 pitches, including a 96 mph fastball and 80 mph curveball, to strike out Jose Altuve, before exiting with a fractured fibula.

Both squads depended on their bullpens early as Morton and Framber Valdez were out of the game by the fourth inning, but the Braves' early offensive explosion allowed them to come out on top 6-2 in the Fall Classic opener.

José Urquidy takes the mound as the Astros look to bounce back in Game 2 and Braves lefty Max Fried hopes to continue Atlanta's hot streak.

Read more: Our experts' predictions

Urquidy stays steady

Urquidy has given the Astros five solid innings, but the Braves hit four balls off him at 90-plus mph in the fifth inning, so you have to think Dusty Baker will go to the bullpen in the sixth inning - especially with the Braves past the top three hitters in the lineup (two lefties and a switch-hitter). That means five of the next batters in the Atlanta lineup are right-handed, so bring in one of your tough righties in the bullpen. Indeed, Cristian Javier is now warming up in the Houston bullpen. He held righties to a .155 average in the regular season and has tossed 7⅔ scoreless innings in the postseason. Look for Baker to try to get two innings from Javier and then Kendall Graveman and Ryan Pressly for the eighth and ninth. --David Schoenfield

Houston heats up

Well, that escalated quickly. The Astros scored three runs in the bottom of the second on two ground ball singles (94.4 and 84.2 mph exit velocity), an infield single (51.5 mph) and another ground ball single (89.1 mph) -- not a hard-hit ball in the bunch (a hard-hit ball is classified as 95-plus mph). The Astros also got help from a horrendous defensive play by the Braves that even a Little League team shouldn't commit. On Martin Maldonado's base hit to left field -- that's the 89.1 mph one -- Braves third baseman Austin Riley set up too deep to cut off the throw home, even though there was no chance to make a play there. With shortstop Dansby Swanson in shallow left field after trying to field the base hit, nobody was covering third base, so the speedy Jose Siri (he beat out that infield hit with an impressive dash to first) raced into third. Left fielder Eddie Rosario threw the ball there, and the ball rolled toward the dugout, allowing Siri to sprint home with the third run. Oh, and then Michael Brantley's two-out ground ball single scored Maldonado for a 5-1 lead.

At least that one was hit at 101.3 mph. Who says small ball is dead?

Evening the score

Jose Urquidy has four strikeouts through two innings for the Astros, but Travis d'Arnaud tagged him for a second-inning home run to tie the game. Urquidy rarely beats himself with walks, but he is an extreme fly ball pitcher and d'Arnaud jumped all over a 3-2 fastball up in the zone -- a disappointing result for Urquidy after being ahead 0-2 in the count. Small warning sign moving forward: The Braves have already hit three balls at 100-plus mph (including d'Arnaud's home run at 104.1). Urquidy is getting some swings and misses, but the Braves are also hitting him hard. You know Dusty Baker wants to get some length from Urquidy, but he also won't hesitate to bring in Cristian Javier in long relief.

Hometown Heroes

Joc Pederson will be rocking his signature pearls for Wednesday night's contest and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is backing the Braves.

Meanwhile, the Astros are looking for a win at home before the series heads to Atlanta.

Excused absence

Would you rather do "homewrk" or attend the World Series? This young fan had a tough choice to make.

Heat Check

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